Increasing dictatorial power In Turkey, the main religion, Islam, is enmeshed with fierce, fanatical nationalism. Following an attempted coup in July 2016, the country remains in a tense situation. Fierce rhetoric from the government has left less space for other voices, including the Christian church—the general opinion is that a true Turk is a Muslim. Often pressured to return to Islam, Christian converts experience the greatest persecution from family, friends and community. Overall, suspicion toward Christians is increasing in Turkey.How Christians are suffering Media reporting on Christians is very biased and Christians regularly experience discrimination when engaging with authorities. Christians have no access to state employment, and experience discrimination in private employment.Christians from Muslim backgrounds often hide their faith. If discovered, they will face pressure from their families because leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal of their Turkish identity and a source of shame to their family. They may be threatened with divorce and the loss of inheritance rights. Although converts from Islam can legally change their religious affiliation on ID cards, it can be a difficult and stressful process.Those from ethnic minorities, such as Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Syriac Christians, experience discrimination in the workplace, especially where employers have government ties. Religious affiliation is recorded on ID cards, so it’s easy to discriminate against Christian applicants.Examples In 2019, at least 23 expatriate Christians received an entry ban or were otherwise forced to leave the country with their families. This is a huge blow for Turkish church groups because many have been involved with the church for many years. Christians fear that this wave of expulsions of expatriates is a prelude for more restrictions for the local Turkish church.Several churches in Istanbul reported incidents of hate speech as vandals spray painted hate message in English and Arabic on their buildings.Some Christians received death threats, while others were harassed in the street. Believers involved in street evangelism are especially at risk.In October 2019, billboard signs at bus stops in Konya displayed anti-Christian and anti-Jewish messages, citing a verse from Quran calling upon Muslims to abstain from befriending Christians and Jews. The signs were later removed after public outrage.Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).
Turkey is currently going through a gradual change from being a strictly secular country to a country based on Islamic norms and values. Under the current regime of President Erdogan, secularism has steadily diminished and the country is accepting a more pronounced Islamic influence. Pray minorities’ rights are protected.The situation for historical Christian communities in the southeast of Turkey is particularly worrying. Much of their property has been taken away by the Turkish government in recent years and their ancient culture is gradually disappearing. Pray their rights are protected.The Turkish government has not generally targeted Christians in particular, but the strong religious nationalism in Turkey leaves almost no space for Christians to proclaim an alternative message. Pray Christians have freedom to share their beliefs. Pray for Turkey
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Stories from Turkey January 15, 2020 Every day, 8 Christians killed for their decision to follow Jesus In-depth research for Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List shows that at least eight Christians, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, die at the hands of persecutors (extremists, family members and state authorities) each day. Read More+ READ MORE October 12, 2018 Breaking: Pastor Andrew Brunson Free! Open Doors USA is relieved to hear of Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release from house arrest to freedom Read More